Thursday, January 26, 2012

last Saturday

five days ago already
we have been preparing for months
Bryan participated in Scholarship Day at Columbia College
here in our city
what an incredible day it was

there are 10 scholarships being offered
five are for full tuition room & board and are worth almost $100,000 for four years
five are for full tuition and those are valued at $72,000 over four years
Columbia College is a wonderful small liberal arts college
when I was 45 years old I took an art class (printmaking) there and had a great time

Brandon was destined to become a "Mizzou man"
the university suits him really well and this Spring he will be getting
his Bachelor's in Health Sciences degree
Bryan's approach to his next level of school is different
they both wanted to be in Columbia and that was fine with me
I never wanted them to feel tied to staying here
for any reason
and wanted them to pursue their dreams in the way
they individually chose to do it...

Bryan and I visited both schools and had tours, etc.
his grades and test scores were sent to both
the heart of his experience was a beauty to behold
there he was wearing a full formal black suit for the first time
all sharp and confident from head to toe
there were heart-poundings once we were on campus
but those went away once the conversation in his interview flowed well
laughter and good stories shared help so much

the questions he was asked were meaningful and his answers straight from his heart to theirs
he had an hour to write an essay based on two questions
and I know his writing is very special
as a parent I went through a nice program learning about the college
and was very impressed
with this community of learning
catered breakfast and lunch were a touch of class
and it was so wonderful to see Bryan beaming as he walked back with
the other students to join their parents

all together there will be approximately 50 students competing for the 10 scholarships

the experience up until now has been such a growing one for us
the two letters of recommendation that Bryan received added so much to what he brought personally
to the table
there are three Scholarship Days total, one more to be held in February
and then the winners will be notified the first week of March

one day at a time
one step at a time
and as Bryan quoted a Chinese Proverb in his essay:

"A thousand mile journey begins with one step."

we shall see where this particular journey leads him and us as a family.
whatever happens at Columbia College we will learn from it and go from there
hope is a power-filled word
I hope for Bryan
I hope for Brandon
I hope that all together we give much
     laugh lots
     grow strong
     and most especially lovestrong

Thursday, January 12, 2012


yesterday was a big day for tests
PET/CT scan takes over two hours to complete
there was trouble with threading veins and I almost
fainted which was interesting since I am a veritable
pincushion after all these years

I do not understand all the tests and just do my
to follow the rules for eating and "water only"
and all the things that lead up to being on a table bed
and going through a huge donut
wrapped like a mummy
not moving a muscle

after the injection you sit still in a darkened room
for 45 minutes
and then under the donut...

I find it very peaceful on the other side of extremely
this machine is reading my insides
and will have a story to tell after I manage to sit up
and go to the other side of the building

I live these steps over and over
yesteday so many people were there it was very crowded
that can at times be demanding but this time it was
comforting because I saw many people
I have not seen in a while
and even though we would rather not see each other need
treatment or check-ups, etc. still we share a bond
that is profound and it is good to see that we are still alive
that is blunt and true

it is a long walk to my doctor's office when we will be looking
at scans together
our style is that we look at them together for the first time viewing
in other words, he generally does not pre-view them and then
give me whatever news there is to be given
we do it "live" action

bloodwork was good enough to allow chemo, good
then the computer gets set up for the trip inside of me
just minutes before I was getting the scan
all of a sudden I am looking at a "picture" of my ghostly
total self
and we are looking for what are called "hot spots"
places where cancer tumors exist
it is very distinct and for me very scary
on the five-inch version of me
there were no hot spots
and the doctor used the word "clean"
I had not heard that word before when looking at any kind of scan
over the past five-plus years

so I wondered what it meant
then he switched the screen perspective and we began
to take a trip through me
from the point of view of starting at my neck
and going through all of my major organs
it is a quick trip
and he smiled and used that word again: "clean"

no visible cancer tumors
I was stunned and quiet and wanting to make sure
I understood what he was saying and I was seeing
every single other time
there have been black spots meaning progression
this time... nothing

now, this does not mean that I do not have cancer
or that there are not cancer cells in my bones
but it does mean that the targeted chemo
is doing a powerful job
it means that at this time there is no progression of cancer
into soft tissue organs
and it means that all of the side effects are worth it

there is more time and there is more love to be shared
the people who have prayed and sent loving wishes
and hope
have given us a great gift
my doctor and nurses are an amazing life-team
and this morning that turned out to be a snow day
found Bryan and I peaceful happy campers at home

yes, I am half-bald, and eyelashless and feel somewhat whoozy and tired
overriding that is a gratitude
a fountain of grace-filled emotions and silent words
I thanked my body for fighting so hard
I thanked the chemo for fighting the fight
I thanked my 18 out of 20 finger and toenails for growing back
I thanked the eagle for soaring my way
I knew it was "big medicine" as my Mom's friend shared with us,
yet I do not understand it, just reflect upon it...

mostly I know that I am grateful for LOVE in LIFE
there is nothing greater
looking into the eyes of those I love
there is the cosmos of heart
that is home

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

it really was an eagle

a couple of weeks ago I stayed at work
about a 1/2 hour later than I needed to
just to talk with friends
in the middle of all the holiday stuff-goings-on

when I was close to our house
about to signal to take a turn
I glanced into the sky as a large shadow appeared overhead
and I absolutely was shocked to see a magnificent

bald eagle swooping in front of my car
the powerful white feathered head
incredible wingspan of brown feathers
the details of the white tail feathers and the golden beak
it was right there in front of me

I didn't know if I was really seeing what I was seeing
until having slowed way down
I glanced at the car behind me in the rear view mirror
making sure I was not going to cause an accident and then
noticed the other driver was animatedly expressing his wonderment
at what we had both just witnessed
yes, it really was an eagle

and 30 seconds, even 5 seconds either way
and I would have missed that moment...

my soon-to-be-97-year-old client
has an amazing collection of books on the topic of Birds
birds of America, Missouri, Birds as the subjects of paintings
and when I told him of my experience
we researched and found that yes there are bald eagles in Missouri
very precious and rare
at one time there were none at all
and then they were reintroduced and there are perhaps about 50-pairs
in the state

the experience lifted my spirits

I did get the heart stress tests done
results are good tests were crazy and I decided
to reevaluate all the meds I am taking and with my doctor's help
took two off my agenda
it has been a bit of a rough ride
a lot like going through withdrawal so I have heard
and even though I did it slowly
it still hit me rather hard
the last few nights I have been able to sleep
without the cold sweats hot flashes jitters and shakes
and oppressive exhaustion that rattled me

the pain that I am dealing with is being handled by the meds
I continue to take
I think it is good to take assessment time
and make new starts and stops

today was chemo day

there is a connection with eagles
but I am too tired at the moment to write about it

I do want to say that my heart soared at Christmas time
being with my family
how lovely to have my sons' girlfriends here with us
the meaning-filled gifts we all shared with each other
made me laugh and cry
and sigh with warm gratitude